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Mizzou team scores high at ’08 ASABE tractor competition

Jarred Jennings and Shane Denson, 2008 “Torq’n Tiger” team members, are pictured here at the ASABE quarter-scale tractor design competition before one of the pulls, replacing an engine coupler that failed last minute. Both Jennings and Shepard are are dual majors in mechanical engineering and agricultural systems management.

Mizzou “Torq’n Tiger” quarter-scale tractor student design team places in top ranks at 2008 competition last June.

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) annual quarter-scale tractor student design competition is more than just a contest for University of Missouri seniors Jarred Jennings and Matt Holtman—it’s a taste of the future. Both are dual majors in mechanical engineering and agricultural systems management, and have participated in the yearly competition since they first entered MU in 2004.

But this past year, things were different.

“We’ve always placed in the middle of the pack, but this year we placed first in three different areas,” Holtman said.

The competition, held annually the first weekend of June, consists of 25 to 30 teams all required to use one or more Briggs & Stratton 16-horsepower engines and meet a 900 lb. weight limit with their tractor design. The ultimate goal is to score highest in different categories such as serviceability, manufacturability, safety, maneuverability, ergonomics, design report, oral presentation, and a pulling contest.

This year the MU team placed first in craftsmanship, manufacturability and safety, with a second place recognition in ergonomics.

President of the team, Holtman, and Vice-President Jennings both agree, the value gained from networking opportunities and hands-on experience far exceed the cost of hard work.

ASABE first began hosting the international contest in 1997. In addition to real-world engineering experience, participants rub shoulders with corporate sponsors of companies like Bridgestone/Firestone, Briggs & Stratton Corp., CLAAS, CNH, Caterpillar, Deere & Company, Kubota, and New Holland North America. In addition, students are able to interact with fellow mechanical engineers from across the United States and other countries.

For MU team members, the year-long process begins in the summer when participants e-mail each other to brainstorm ideas and review successes and failures from the previous year’s competition.

The major components and modeling issues are hashed out early in the fall semester, with the drawing process usually complete by November, Holtman said. Team members use a complex computer program called ProEngineer to model the whole tractor. By Christmas break, a proto-type is constructed and the students begin to buy parts.

Once the model is complete, testing beings usually in March, and re-construction often follows.

“Last year we would have spent about $20,000 in parts, but we have a lot of companies who donate parts, resources, and funds,” Jennings said.

On average about 10-15 people commit to be a part of the “Torq’n Tiger” competitive team at MU, but Jennings and Holtman encourage more engineering students to take advantage of the experience.

“Ultimately what we want to do is design or test engineering equipment for agricultural companies and that is exactly what we get to do in this competition. Anyone who is interested in mechanical engineering should look into the team,” Holtman said.

In preparation for the 2009 competition, the pair said they have already decided on significant changes from last year’s model.

“We are going to have a much lighter transmission and different engine configuration,” Holtman said.

In addition to the ASABE competition in Peoria, Ill., the team also attends the annual Agricultural Equipment Technology conference in Louisville every February.

For more information contact Holtman at mwhn75@mizzou.edu.